Left to right: Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra and Special Assistant to the Superintendent Tim Corder
Freshly-sworn-in Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra hasn't held her job long, but she has been quick to muster a team of executive staff members who will assist her in her new capacity. At a press conference Jan. 6, she was anxious to introduce her new team, but was silent on a host of pressing issues that she indicated would be addressed closer to the already imminent 2015 legislative session.
Ybarra's team includes Community Relations Officer Dr. Chuck Zimmerly, Idaho Education Technology Association president and incoming Chief Technology Officer Will Goodman, former Nampa School District Superintendent and incoming Interim Deputy Superintendent Pete Koehler, former Idaho legislator and incoming Special Assistant to the Superintendent Tim Corder, and Dr. Charlie Silva has been named Special Education Director, formerly holding a special education position at the Boise School District.
But Ybarra declined to comment on specific short-term patches to the Idaho Education Network debacle, in which Syringa Networks sued the State of Idaho over being "blackballed
" from state contracts, including a $60 million deal between the state, Education Networks of America and Qwest. She was also mum on the subject of specific policy initiatives she might pursue during the upcoming legislative session, and backed away from discussing the case of Harmony Soto, the Borah High School senior and journalism student who reprinted a Boise Weekly
story about Ybarra to make a statement about plagiarism
"I did so much talking during the campaign, it was time to start listening," she said in reference to her "listening tour," during which she crossed the state to hear from educators and administrators about what they'd like to see from her tenure.
Speaking with more bravado was Ybarra's new special assistant, Tim Corder, who indicated that bold visions are in play at the Department of Education.
"I've been doing things like this my whole life—moving things from theory to reality," he said.
Ybarra did, however, indicate that she is not a supporter of the "entire package" of Common Core, and that the education initiative's opponents would have a chance to weigh in on issues pertaining to it. She also said that she isn't averse to the possibility of increasing taxes to fund education, though she stressed she could pursue other funding avenues as well, and that she would work with the legislature to forward the Department of Education's mission to provide excellence in education.
"I am interested in every opportunity to increase funding for our schools," she said.